7 world title, 91 race victories, a fierce competitor, but most of all a builder.
Schumi was not one of my favorite men on the grid. During his reign I rooted for men like Mika Hakkinen, David Coulthard, Kimi Raikonnen, and Juan Pablo Montoya, but there have been moments when I had to grudgingly hope that Schumi would win the race. None more so than his last race at Brazil. The race will go down in Schumi legend not because it was the last time his fans and racing aficionados would see him drive in anger, but for the sheer tenacity he displayed in a race which he had lost right at the start.
At the end of his glorious career people stood up and applauded the son of a bricklayer who dreamt of and then climbed the peak of a career in Formula 1.
For me the greatest memory of Schumi remains his qualifying lap at the inaugural Bahrain GP. In a car that was a far cry from the superior machinery he was used to, on a track that was as green as they come, Schumi virtually manhandled his car to a P1 grid position. The world watched Schumi slide into corners and shoot out of them (a very non-Schumi way of driving a F1 car), and bet that he was losing time “hand over fist”, but at the end of each sector his time was faster than everybody who had driven smoother. It is this ability of his which set him apart from his peers and gave Formula 1 its most boring half decade.
Make no mistake, Schumi did not always have the best car, but his Ferrari always had the best driver.
My only regret is that he never drove for McLaren. I would have loved to see him in a Silver Arrow. Many are the times I have wondered how it would have been to have had him and Mika as team mates. That will remain for me a personal regret.
But as Schumi hangs up his boots, I find myself shedding a tear along with his more ardent supporters, because in the end it is Formula 1 that has lost a lot of its sheen.
No matter what that man does from here on, we can be sure he will succeed, and succeed in a big way.
Thank you Schumi for all those moments of brilliance. Thank you for all those jaw-dropping maneuvers. Thank you for showing us that sport is still an arena where the best can achieve the impossible. Thank you for life.